We have this thing called "Our Space" at uni. It is pretty much what any american university student would call "complete bullshit", but i guess i have always loved complete bullshit in a way, and so i kind of like 'our space' too. During 'our space' we are supposed to pick a topic and a student facilitator to lead the discussion, and then just talk about whatever we want. recent topics have included dating in senegal vs. dating in america (oh dear me) and i don't know i forgot what the first one was about. anyway it can vary to really unproductive, to incredibly interesting. this week the subject we ended up talking about was different notions of happiness. one of the americans, charlotte, read this poem she wrote to us and then we ended up talking as a group for, i think, 3 hours?!? about it. so i don't want to recount exactly what happened, but i am just going to write down what different people were saying, like a book of quotations, beause i think that's the only way to get the idea of what really happened.
1st: Charlotte Poem:
The Betrayal of the American Dream
When you feel you must escape
Or you'll loose your human shape
Buy yourself a car so large,
It even has a turbo-charge.
And tell yourself that it's so nice,
You could drive to Paradise.
When your world is too small
Encircles you within its wall
Buy yourself a bigger house
Go shopping for a sexy blouse.
When you're alone and cannot cope
But know true love is fool's hope;
Buy fresh beauty in a can
Catch yourself a brand-new man.
But when the love fades from his eyes,
And even nude, he's in disguise,
Buy yourself a fine divorce
Bring out the lawyers in full force.
When your children look at you in pleading,
Yearning for the love they're needing
Buy them countless games and gadgets,
Lie to them, say there is magic.
When there's a growing hunger in your heart
Just drive up to the Super-Mart.
Stuff yourself till you forget
Those other needs, ones never met.
When the Gods are stiff and silent
And the world's grim and violent,
Buy yourself a revelation
In 3-D color animation.
It only costs $9.95
To find out Jesus is alive.
When you feel you're standing still
Going nowhere, have no will
Go searching for a better job,
Blend into the busy mob.
It really is a huge relief
To embrace the false belief
That your business is so urgent
There's no time to be insurgent.
You'll right the world's many wrongs
And sing the rebel's stirring songs
When there's a moment left to spare.
But for right now, you needn't care.
And for the few who still feel guilty—
Its very cheap to give to charity.
When there is nothing left to see
But concrete stretching endlessly
Enhance the screen on your T.V.
In full color you can see
People fighting to be free;
Worlds that will never be.
When you're choking on despair
And wonder why you cannot care,
Get an hour with a shrink
You must be insane to think
There's a reason to be sad!
There's nothing wrong. You're simply... mad.
When endless nights of silent screaming,
Have put an end to skyward dreaming,
Buy yourself a hit of crack,
Destroy the need for coming back.
And when the money has run out,
And they no longer hear you shout,
There are pills for endless sleep,
Which take you where you never weep.
They told you it was all for sale.
And so you paid for your own jail.
Then when you ran out of things to buy,
You bought a painless way to die.
And as you drift away and fade,
Know that you have been betrayed.
2nd: Compostite List of What You Need to Be Happy:
health, friends, wealth ?, usefulness, chance to help others, growth, class mobility, work, love, companionship, understanding, power, nice car, house.
3rd: Quotations/Perspectives/Analysis - in NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
"Happiness is a long process, it is impossible. You can never be happy."
"I am completely and 100% happy with my life the way it is now."
"Progress comes from dissatisfaction."
"Right now you just have joie de vivre."
"If you're going to improve, do you need to be unhappy with what you have now?"
"Maybe our words mean different things. Happiness? Is there a language barrier?"
"If you are happy, everything is perfect. I am unhappy."
"I think, Paradise is here on Earth. Because if God does something then we have to accept it and be happy, even if it is a sad thing."
"Real happiness is eternal and a human being cannot have this."
"So, does being accepting make you happy? Jessica is not accepting but she is happy. If she doesn't life something, she changes it."
"It's the power of man's spirit that matters."
"In life there are ups and downs. It is hard to emplain happiness when you talk about religion, because what we are taught contradicts what we are living sometimes, but we are accepting it."
"Happiness now vs. happiness in the future?"
"I will be happy if i don't live like my parents had to."
"So does that mean your parents are unhappy? Are they unhappy just because we don't want to be like them? Because we want to achieve different thing, or more, than them?"
"Being happy and being sad, they go together."
"What is the difference between the happiness of God and the happiness of man?"
"Happiness is not challenging what you can not change."
"To be happy, do you have to create a chance for others to be happy too?"
"If you pray for patience, do you think God gives you patience? Or does he give you opportunities to be patient? If you pray for love, do you think God gives you love? Or does he give you opportunities to love and be loved? If you pray for happiness, do you think God gives you happiness? Or does he give you opportunities to be happy? You just have to open your eyes."
"There are two kinds of happiness, the eternal and the mortal, you can't have the eternal."
"You don't know anything about the eternal. The eternal is the right now."
"Satisfying your desires vs. happiness"
"Is happiness temporary or is it a state of being?"
"You have to be patient, endurant."
"The native americans say you are not a human being when you are born, you become a human being through your actions."
"In the end we will have to respect each other and understand that everyone just thinks about happiness differently."
"Every person has their true self within them - true, raw, uninhibited - but through life you put up your barriers to make life easier but they also inhibit you you from being your actual true self. Part of happiness / love is being able to break down barriers to get there. To do this you make yourself vulnerable - open. With anyone."
"Do we put them up because the spirit, our happiness, can be corrupted? To protect us?"
"It is a chance for your light to touch someone else. But is your light strong enough to bear exposure?"